CLASSIFICATION – FP1 – KOREAN GP
|20||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:43:883|
CLASSIFICATION – FP2 – KOREAN GP
|11||Di Resta||Force India||1:40:007|
|19||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:42:461|
Mercedes – As expected, Mercedes had the upper hand on rivals Red Bull throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, with Lewis Hamilton branding the day his ‘best Friday for a long time’ as he set fastest time for FP1 and FP2. Nico Rosberg was lagging behind his team-mate a little bit all day, but was still easily within striking distance of the Briton who had one or two uncomfortable moments courtesy of oversteer. As usual, Mercedes looked more comfortable running on the soft tyres in qualifying trim, but they are certainly closer to the outright pace than they have been for a couple of races.
Red Bull – In the unusual position of being second best after day one, Sebastian Vettel still found heart to take a dig at those who have put credence in the now-infamous ‘traction control’ theory circulating earlier in the week. His gap to Hamilton was miniscule given the straightline speed deficit between the Mercedes and his RB9 across the three exceptionally long straights, but Mark Webber was uncharacteristically fast in the same trim with his own car. A splitting of strategies with the possiblity of rain on the horizon for Sunday would be a gamble from a team with such a huge advantage in the points table, but it is most probably the Australian who has been chosen for the riskier option if one exists.
Ferrari – Vying with Lotus for third fastest team is not how Fernando Alonso wanted his day to pan out, but the Spaniard was on average 0.7 off the fastest time through both sessions. Massa was solid if unspectacular, but some competitive runs on the harder tyre bode well – if the race is dry of course.
Lotus – Set back by Kimi Raikkonen’s crash in FP1 that lost the Finn a lot of his base-line setup, Lotus nevertheless looked in relatively strong form when pitched against Ferrari. Romain Grosjean appears to have picked up where he left off in Singapore with some fast laps and, as ever, the E21 is in sound fettle when setup for race conditions.
McLaren – Things looked good in FP1 with Jenson Button doing plenty of exploratory work before setting fifth fastest time, but Sergio Perez was some way off his former World Champion team-mate in both sessions. There was a slump in FP2 however, with the MP4/28 again looking unsuited to the harder compound tyres that caused both men’s races to unravel so badly in Singapore. There was little or no time gain to found, a trait they will be working very hard to resolve in FP3 – because on the softer tyre they’re looking more competitive than they have done for a while.
Force India – Made some improvement from the morning session to begin mixing it with the McLaren’s in FP2, hich is of course their stated goal for the weekend. James Calado put in some helpful mileage in place of Paul Di Resta in FP1, and the Scot returned to the cockpit to back up a competent performance from Adrian Sutil in FP2. Points are well within reach given today’s showing.
Sauber – A little off-colour after their recent heroics, Sauber were perhaps feeling the effects of a less-than-effective aero package around Yeongam’s sweeping middle and final sectors. Gutierrez is under the spotlight after rumours over Sauber’s 2014 driver choices did not include his name last night, so the young Mexican perhaps had other things on his mind today.
Toro Rosso – Daniel Ricciardo struggled all day relative to Jean Eric Vergne, but the Frenchman was not all that impressive either. Friday suggested this weekend may be a holding one for Toro Rosso but there were some rays of hope in the race simulation runs on the harder tyre.
Williams – Fighting with the Sauber’s and Toro Rosso’s is a step up for Frank Williams’ team this weekend, and they will hope to make further progress tomorrow. There were some interesting aero work changes being run in FP1 by Bottas despite the proximity to the last race that seemed to show promise, but the afternoon session was less fruitful with both the Finn and team-mate Maldonado languishing at the bottom of the ‘established’ order.
Caterham – Just like we predicted! With a comfortable margin over Marussia and still pushing (witness Charles Pic’s off-track FP2 moment) but no closer to the cars in front. Once again it looks like a lonely weekend in no-man’s land for the Anglo-Malaysian team.
Marussia – Rodolfo Gonzalez repayed the team’s faith in him by binning Jules Bianchi’s car into the wall during FP1, but it didn’t bother the Frenchman too much who celebrated his recent contract news by pulverising team-mate Chilton in FP2. He was some 0.3 ahead of the Brit who struggled despite having the advantage of the morning’s running under his belt.